When Gregory Griffin headed to New York City, he had a vision and a purpose – to make his album The Feeling the next big thing, and to become a hip-hop artist that could change the world. When his work didn’t resonate with producers, critics, and audiences, it broke his heart yet simultaneously fueled his flame.
Hometown area code 210, Griffin is known on the hip-hop circuit as Greg G, and has learned to lay back, take a more organic approach, and not push things too hard with his art.
“I don’t have any control over when it’s gonna go big,” Griffin told the Rivard Report, referencing his music and career as an artist. “Today I can talk to you, I can release my video. There’s still tomorrow, you got that hope and that’s what the song represents as well.”
Griffin’s next full length-album, When All Else Fails (Love…And When That Fails Love More), will drop this summer. His second video to be released – Slow Down – captures Griffin’s persona, way of life, and steadiness perfectly on the mic. (see above video)
Griffin had intention and purpose every step of the way, desiring three elements to be at the forefront of the video.
“I wanted it to be very musical, I wanted to sample myself, and I wanted to sing,” he said. “I wanted to showcase my voice. A lot of people don’t know the musicality that I’m capable of.”
The making of Slow Down was a poignant representation of the song title itself, with beautiful complex layers lending themselves to the creative process and ultimately the final manifestation.
“I’m gonna make a song around your idea,” Griffin said, referring to videographer Zach Villafaña of steadyprime. “He had this slow motion idea, and I had never written a song around a video concept; it was a challenge for me.”
Villafaña has been with Griffin since day one, and looks up to him as a role model.
“Usually you have the song and then the video – we worked backwards on this one,” Villafaña said. “You feel good when you try something new, outside the box.”
As he filmed Griffin, Villafaña sped up the song to play twice as fast as it normally does, then slowed it down to 50% while editing so that the lyrics matched his voice.
“Everything is in slo-mo, but his lips are matching up with the music,” Villafaña said. “That’s what I was going for on the outro.”
The entire video is a departure from the flashy hooks and instant gratification that is expected in many videos, growing with a thoughtful orchestration of sound and philosophy, vision and execution.
“There is a shot in particular of about 15-20 seconds of Greg just standing still on the street,” Villafaña said. “The slo-mo footage is so beautiful, I wanted to leave it kind of strung out, let you listen to the words.”
One day you’ll hold your crown / ‘Til then, my king, slow down / ‘Til then, my queen, slow down / Don’t let ’em steal your dreams, slow down
Villafaña’s instinctual expertise in his craft made him the perfect partner for Griffin in the project.
“He came to me and said, ‘I know this model Becca. She’s running away from you, but then she runs back to you,'” Griffin said. “This was exactly what was going on with my lady at the time. For him to come up with that concept shows we’re destined to work together.”
A simple act like sitting in your backyard without your headphones and not just feeling ,but listening to the summer breeze, brings you peace. The same type of stillness and measured purpose has helped Griffin find his own.
“Whatever you’re running away from, you just gotta slow down and let it be,” he said. “You can’t mess up your blessings. Even now, listening to my words, I need to listen to my words.”
Michael King, known as DJ King Mike, met Griffin in high school and has come to admire his sense of self and confidence. He has since collaborated with Griffin for many years and considers him a close compatriot in the hip-hop game.
“Over time he has turned into someone that knows his creative process and sticks to it,” King said. “It’s his own version of it, and as an artist, that’s the right way to go about it.”
It’s easy for hip-hop artists and rappers to get caught up in the grind, sell out their sound, and fall in line with the masses who produce radio-friendly pop consumerism through their music.
“We met with P. Diddy’s manager once. He loved Greg’s stuff, but didn’t know what to do with it,” King said. “His sound is transcendent. I don’t know how to put a label on it except ‘this shit’s good.'”
King has seen Griffin through his many successes, the ebbs and flows of life as an artist, including Griffin’s performances at a Spurs championship parade and SXSW, and when he opened up for Blue October.
“This is pretty legendary, but you’ve gotta have the gatekeeper to open the door,” King said. “It’s tough because he’s in the gray area where he could keep going and possibly make it. The move to NYC was a feeling like he could make it.”
Griffin left for the Big Apple despite friends and family cheering him on here in San Antonio, a testament to how much he believes in what he’s doing and to the sacrifices he is willing to make to see his art through.
“My album is just telling a story dealing with love and relationships and life,” Griffin said. “I know that everyone can relate to that, to that hustle.”
We pull up to that HEB with change up in the jar, but we made it thank the Lord / Who woulda thought that when it begun the hardships that I’ve endured have shaped the man that I’ve become / So, I know that in defeat there’s still battles to be won, there’s still treasure to be found if you take a look around and slow down.
There is no acting in this video, no faking it to make a point. Griffin is living everything he sings, every beat he lays down, every moment captured in this journey of a video created over the course of nine months, forcing him to heed his lyrics and slow down.
“Love always wins man, even in the tough times,” Griffin said. “Man, Dad always told me, you can’t keep a good man down.”
Top image: Hip-hop artist Greg G. Photo courtesy of Lousette Saint Victor.